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Purdue Memorial Union



  • Existence: 1924-

Historical Information

The original concept for a student union was stated by George O. Hays and the Class of 1912. The proposal asked for a building to serve as an activity center for Purdue students, alumni, and faculty. The Class of 1912 voted for a $5 assessment from each senior to start a fund to erect a home for students, alumni, and faculty activities. Succeeding classes followed the same procedure until the United States entered World War I in 1917. Student, alumni, and campus priorities were re-focused upon the war effort. At the close of the war 4,013 men and women had served their country. Among them were 67 gold stars recipients. The university community decided the Union should stand as a permanent memorial to those who had died. The first phase of construction of the Purdue Memorial Union commenced in 1922; the building opened in 1924. The Memorial Union has underwent subsequent additions and renovations during its existence, yet it has always been a place of remembrance and community for the university.


Purdue Memorial Union. Purdue University Facilties and Buildings Historic Database. Accessed May 21, 2019.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Campus Art Survey records

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 62, Placement: 02
Identifier: UA 142
Scope and Contents The Campus Art Survey records contain reports and inventories of the various paintings and works of art that were present on campus. The reports include the locations of the works of art at that time.
Dates: 1938 - 1958

Frank "Pappy" Fox collection

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 2, Placement: 13
Identifier: MSP 231
Dates: 1924 - 1999; Majority of material found within 1920 - 1940s; Other: Date acquired: 07/06/2017

Robert Lee Matthews collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 167
Scope and Contents The Robert Lee Matthews collection documents Matthews' time as a student at Coyne Trade and Engineer School and at Purdue and his alumni relations with Purdue. The collection includes personal records and artifacts, correspondence, and photographs.
Dates: 1909 - 1969; Majority of material found within 1923 - 1953

Purdue Memorial Union booklet

 Unprocessed — Box: Communal Accessions 32
Identifier: 20190416

Purdue Memorial Union records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 111
Scope and Contents The Purdue Memorial Union records contain information regarding the construction of the building, its uses, and promotional materials throughout its existence, including the student petition to raise funds and encourage the Board of Trustees to finish the building when construction was delayed due to World War I. Several pamphlets contain floor plans of the Union and show how the building has changed over the years with new additions.
Dates: 1920 - 1999

Purdue University Executive Vice President and Treasurer records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 37
Scope and Contents The Purdue University Executive Vice President for Business and Finance and Treasurer’s Office records (1921-2000; 10.5 cubic feet) documents the administrations of Executive Vice President and Treasurers, including Frederick Ford (1974-1998), Kenneth P. Burns (1998-2004), and Morgan Olsen (2004-2008). Other Vice Presidents documented include Howard S. Lyon, John Hicks, Lytle J. Freehafer, and John C. Smalley.  The Records further document campus demonstrations of the late 1960’s to early...
Dates: 1921-2000; Other: Date acquired: 03/02/2010